French shipping company CMA CGM moves shipping routes out of important whale habitat

July 29, 2023

The French shipowners’ association Armateurs de France informs that with CMA CGM another major global player in maritime transport has decided to move  the navigation routes of its ships in the Hellenic Trench out of the core sperm whale habitat. Captains are instructed to avoid important sperm whale habitats to prevent collisions with the endangered marine mammals.

In May 2023, Armateurs de France had called on its members to voluntarily take measures to protect sperm whales in the Hellenic Trench and blue whales in the Indian Ocean south of Sri Lanka. The approximately sixty members of the French shipowners’ association navigate about 1000 ships, including cargo and container ships as well as passenger ferries.

Armateurs de France based their call on scientific recommendations from a coalition formed of OceanCare, IFAW, the Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute and WWF Greece, for specific routes to drastically reduce the risk of collision with endangered whales. Indeed, ship strikes are the most common direct cause of whale mortality in the Hellenic Trench and south of Sri Lanka – both regions identified as Important Marine Mammal Areas (IMMA).

Together with its partners, OceanCare aims to work closely with the shipping sector. In addition to CMA CGM, other major shipping companies like MSC, Stolt-Nielsen and DFDS have already stepped forwards and taken voluntary measures to protect whales.

The coalition is also calling on decision-makers at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and national governments to take binding measures applying to all vessels, to prevent endangered whales from being hit in the high-risk areas identified by researchers.